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Live Reporting

Alun Jones and Nia Harri

All times stated are UK

  1. Why we need people qualified in trades

    The topic chosen by Mike Hedges (Swansea East) for the Short Debate is "the importance of apprenticeships: Why we need people qualified in trades".

    He says "people who work hard to gain qualifications while doing apprenticeships need to be rewarded for those skills, and unqualified people should not be allowed to undermine them".

    Mike Hedges
  2. More accounts issues possible

    Nick Ramsay, chair of the Public Accounts Committee, says that the troubled environment watchdog Natural Resources Wales may see further problems with its accounts for a fourth year in a row.

    For three years running the Wales Audit Office queried the watchdog's accounts, signing them off with a so-called "qualification", indicating that there were questions over whether the organisation had acted within the rules.

    It is only the second public body in Wales to have its accounts qualified by the Wales Audit Office since the assembly was established.

  3. 'Period of uncertainty the last thing the staff of Natural Resources Wales need'

    Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, says the "period of uncertainty proposed by the opposition is absolutely the last thing the staff of NRW need".

    The Welsh Government amendment is to delete points 3 and 4 and replace with new points:

    • Notes the findings and recommendations of the reports by:
    • a) National Assembly Public Accounts Committee inquiry into NRW’s annual report and accounts 2017-2018 – November 2018;
    • b) Grant Thornton - Natural Resources Wales - Governance of Timber Sales - February 2019.
    • Welcomes the appointment of a new chief executive and interim chair of NRW and their commitment to implement the recommendations of the two reports and improve the management and governance of NRW.
    Lesley Griffiths
  4. 'Serious failings'

    At issue were multimillion-pound contracts repeatedly offered to some timber firms without allowing others to compete for them.

    Auditors and AMs have questioned whether the deals were lawful and value for money.

    NRW's chair Diane McCrea and head of commercial operations Peter Garson resigned over the affair, while former chief executive Dr Emyr Roberts - in charge at the time the controversial deals were struck - has since retired.

    Last month, the Grant Thornton review found "serious failings" in the way such contracts were managed and overseen by NRW.

    Peter Garson admitted last year that a number of timber sales contracts were not legally enforceable
    Image caption: Peter Garson admitted last year that a number of timber sales contracts were not legally enforceable
  5. 'Series of high profile failures'

    A Plaid Cymru amendment is to replace “Regrets that NRW has systematically failed the people of Wales through a number of high-profile scandals” with “Regrets the series of high profile failures in NRW”.

    Llyr Gruffydd calls on the Welsh Government to "establish an independent review to ascertain whether it is still appropriate for NRW to continue to manage the commercial forest estate in Wales and consider any potential alternative models," and to "ensure that NRW is properly resourced to adequately fulfil all of its duties".

    Llyr Gruffydd
  6. 'Number of high-profile scandals'

    The topic chosen for the Welsh Conservatives debate is Natural Resources Wales.

    They propose that the National Assembly for Wales;

    1. Notes the Welsh Government’s decision to merge the Countryside Council for Wales, Environment Agency Wales, and the Forestry Commission Wales with the formation of Natural Resources Wales (NRW) in 2013.

    2. Recognises the hard work of frontline staff in the organisation but acknowledges their dissatisfaction and lack of confidence in the decisions taken by senior management, as regularly expressed in staff surveys since NRW’s inception.

    3. Regrets that NRW has systematically failed the people of Wales through a number of high-profile scandals, including:

    a) serious failings in the handling of timber contracts which auditors, Grant Thornton, stated were so bad they "heightened exposure to the risk of fraud";

    b) the ‘qualification’ of the organisation’s accounts by the Wales Audit Office for three years running, indicating that there were questions over whether the organisation had acted within the rules;

    c) the contradictory approach led by NRW when deciding to intervene on matters of public interest such as shooting on public land and nuclear mud dumping.

    4. Calls on the Welsh Government to instigate an independent review/inquiry into the organisation’s failings and to investigate alternative proposals for the management of the natural resources of Wales.

    Problems with Natural Resources Wales's accounts began in 2014 over a £39m deal for diseased larch struck
    Image caption: Problems with Natural Resources Wales's accounts began in 2014 over a £39m deal for diseased larch struck
  7. Video content

    Video caption: First minister Mark Drakeford fury over 'liar or fool' jibe

    First Minister Mark Drakeford reacted with anger on Wednesday after he was accused of being a "liar or a fool".

  8. Bill passes Stage 3

    The Public Services Ombudsman (Wales) Bill passes Stage 3.

  9. Guide to Public Bills and Acts

    There is generally a four-stage process for the consideration of a Public Bill involving:

    • Stage 1 – consideration of the general principles of the Bill by a committee, and the agreement of those general principles by the Assembly;
    • Stage 2 – detailed consideration by a committee of the Bill and any amendments tabled to that Bill;
    • Stage 3 – detailed consideration, by the Assembly, of the Bill and any amendments tabled to that Bill;
    • Stage 4 – a vote by the Assembly to pass the final text of the Bill.
  10. Stage 3 debate

    We now reach a Stage 3 debate on the Public Services Ombudsman (Wales) Bill.

    Under the bill the Ombudsman's remit would expand allowing the office to:

    • Accept oral complaints
    • Launch its own investigations
    • Investigate private medical treatment when it is combined with NHS treatment
    • Focus on complaints handling standards and procedures.
    Nick Bennett is the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales
    Image caption: Nick Bennett is the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales
  11. Janet Finch-Saunders elected chair of the petitions committee

    The Llywydd Elin Jones announces the result of the secret ballot to elect the chair of the petitions committee.

    Janet Finch-Saunders is elected with 25 votes to Mark Isherwood's 14.

    Janet Finch-Saunders
  12. 'Wales benefits enormously'

    Bethan Sayed focuses on the loss of European funding, the effect on the ability to promote Wales on the international stage, and the effect on the Welsh language and Welsh language communities. She says that alongside funding opportunities, "Wales benefits enormously" from its current ability to participate in European programmes and partnerships.

    The report has seven recommendations, one of which is that the Welsh Government "should continue to lobby the UK Government to remain part of Creative Europe, Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+ once we leave the EU.

    "If this is not possible then the Welsh Government should pursue the option of membership using the precedent set by Quebec’s participation in Horizon 2020."

    Bethan Sayed
  13. Statement by the Chair of the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee

    The next item is statement by the Chair of the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee Bethan Sayed: "The effect of Brexit on the arts, creative industries, heritage and the Welsh language".

  14. No Topical Questions accepted

    No Topical Questions were accepted. Topical Questions must relate to a matter of national, regional or local significance where an expedited Ministerial response is desirable.

    Questions
  15. 'Challenges around the country about our capacity to take on extra NHS patients'

    In response to UKIP group leader Gareth Bennett's question on the availability of NHS dentists, Vaughan Gething acknowledges "there are challenges around the country about our capacity to take on extra NHS patients, but that is tied up with contractual reform".

    Gareth Bennett
  16. 'Further push is needed'

    Plaid Cymru's Helen Mary Jones and Vaughan Gething trade quotes from the OECD Reviews of Health Care Quality: United Kingdom 2016.

    The review states that "less than two decades after devolution, the Welsh health system remains a relatively young one; many of the institutions and mechanisms needed to promote high quality care are in place, but now a further push is needed to move towards a more mature, robust quality architecture".

    Helen Mary Jones
  17. E-cigarettes 'much less harmful'

    Vaughan Gething says it is more accurate to say e-cigarettes are "much less harmful" rather than "much safer".

    View more on twitter
  18. 'Sea-change' needed in Welsh Government's approach

    On No Smoking Day, Conservative Darren Millar says it's "very worrying" that the Welsh Government is "five years behind" its target of reducing prevalence of smoking in Wales to 16% by 2020. He calls for a "sea-change" in the Welsh Government's approach, particularly in the use of e-cigarettes to promote cessation of smoking.

    Darren Millar